Growing Bonsai - Choosing a Style

Bonsai can be classified into five basic styles: formal upright, informal upright, slanting, cascade, and semicascade. These classifications are based on the overall shape of the tree and how much the trunk slants away from an imaginary vertical axis.

The numerous Japanese bonsai styles are principally variations of these five basic styles. The styles given on this website apply to trees with single trunks. The single trunk style is the basic design that is simplest to shape because the one trunk determines the overall composition.

Before potting a tree for bonsai in any of the five styles, keep in mind the image of how the tree will stand in the container. Donít plant a tree one way, and then uproot it to make a change. Keep your overall theme in mind when planting bonsai. Upright trees should have a stabilized look in the container; slanted and cascaded styles often have their upper root surfaces exposed to imitate plants that grow this way in nature.

No matter what style you choose ó whether single trunk specimens or groups of trees from single roots ó everything depends on your selection of plant material, and your ability to visualize the bonsaiís final form.

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